The futility of trying harder…

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Ephesians 4:17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul planted the church in Ephesus and taught the people there how to live as Christians. Part of a new life in Christ meant letting go of “every kind of impurity” (v.19). Apparently, without Paul’s presence for both support and accountability, some of the Ephesians got sucked back into their old ways of life.

I’ve been at this Christianity thing for a lot of years now and I still get sucked into old habits and practices. I’ve learned that clothing oneself with the new self (v.24) isn’t a matter of trying harder. That almost never works. What has been more effective is a surrender process – admitting to God that I cannot break from of the past on my own. It takes the power of the living God to do a work in me I cannot do on my own.

Lord I know I remain a work in progress and mess up every day. Do not give up on me, but give me grace to grow more and more into the person you want me to be. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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